ROME – Pope Benedict XVI (search) urged Polish pilgrims on Wednesday to pray for the beatification of Pope John Paul II (search), just six months after his death.
"All of his teachings and the example of his life remain important and contemporary for us," Benedict said in Polish, during his weekly Wednesday general audience. Many Poles in the crowd in St. Peter's Square waved red and white Polish flags.
The pope announced May 13 that he was putting John Paul on the fast track for possible sainthood, waiving the traditional five-year waiting period before the process can begin.
Benedict was responding to widespread calls for John Paul to be named a saint, including chants of "Santo Subito!" or "Sainthood Now!" that erupted during his April 8 funeral.
The Vatican must confirm one miracle from after John Paul's death for him to be beatified, and a second miracle occurring after the beatification for him to be made a saint. John Paul died on April 2.
Some churchmen have suggested John Paul could also be declared a martyr, which would spare the Vatican from having to confirm a miracle for him to be beatified. John Paul survived a 1981 attempt on his life and suffered for many years from Parkinson's disease (search).